TBR News May 17, 2018

May 17 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. May 17, 2018:”For years, the print media either was lavish in praise of Sacred Israel or, if that country committed obvious atrocities such as the ‘Liberty’ attack, quick to excuse or, most often, ignore the issue.

But now with Trump’s unhinged full support of them, the Israelis are of the opinion that they can butcher their unarmed perceived enemies with glee and pleasure, safe in the knowledge that Washington will defend them,

The media, and public opinion, are another matter.

And anti-Semitism is surging upward in the United States, a fact not reported in the media.

Perhaps all would be made peaceful if Trump went to Jerusalem and allowed himself to be cemented inside what the Israelis claim is the foundation of the temple of Solomon but what is, in reality, an Arab-built retaining wall circa 600 AD.

Perhaps Fat Bibi, his amazingly beautiful wife and George Soros could join Trump in his sacrificial entombment and then peace and quiet would descend on the Holy Land once more.”


Table of Contents

  • West’s Failure to Act Will Be Cause of the Next Gaza Massacre
  • Israel versus the United States
  • EU will use ‘blocking statute’ to protect its firms from US sanctions for operating in Iran
  • EU to reactivate ‘blocking statute’ against US sanctions on Iran for European firms
  • The Ruinously Expensive American Military
  • North Korea does not want to be like East Germany
  • Top US and S Korean diplomats hold emergency call over N Korea
  • Putin says Russian frigates in Mediterranean on standby over Syria threat
  • ‘Deadly and unconstitutional’: Trump attacks California sanctuary cities
  • Trump fails to halt ‘Apprentice’ contestant’s defamation lawsuit
  • Qatari Investor: Michael Cohen Asked Me for a Million Dollars
  • Explosive eruption occurs at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, with warning of ash plume


West’s Failure to Act Will Be Cause of the Next Gaza Massacre

There are no calls for embargoes on sales of arms, no demands for war crimes investigations, no threats of trade sanctions

May 17, 2018

by Jonathan Cook


The contrasting images coming out of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories on Monday could not have been starker – or more disturbing.

Faced with protests at the perimeter fence in Gaza, Israeli snipers killed dozens of unarmed Palestinians and wounded more than 2,000 others, including children, women, journalists and paramedics, in a hail of live fire. Amnesty, the international human rights organization, rightly called it a “horror show”.

Such horror is now so routine that TV anchors could only headline the news as the worst day of bloodshed in Gaza in four years, when Israel massacred civilians in its last major military assault.

Already gasping from the chokehold of Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza, local hospitals are now collapsing from the weight of casualties.

A few kilometers away, meanwhile, Israelis were partying.

So-called “liberal” Tel Aviv was busy “chicken dancing” with Netta, who had just won the Eurovision Song Contest and gave a free open-air performance to celebrate.

And in Jerusalem, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was glad-handing a bevy of US officials, including Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and policy adviser. They were there to beam for the cameras as the US opened its embassy in the occupied city.

The move pre-empts negotiations over the city’s fate and sabotages Palestinian ambitions for East Jerusalem to become the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu’s grin said it all. As he mouthed platitudes about “Middle Eastern peace”, he finally had Washington’s blessing for all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And next year Europe will give its implicit blessing too by hosting the Eurovision Song Contest there.

But amid the euphoria, a few Israeli commentators understood that politics is about more than power – it’s about imagery too. The champagne-quaffing in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while Gaza drowned in blood left a profoundly sour taste in the mouth.

There was more than a whiff of hypocrisy too in statements about “defending borders” from a state that has refused to declare its borders since its creation exactly 70 years ago – as well as from a Netanyahu government currently trying to establish a Greater Israel over the Palestinian territories.

But the hypocrisy was not restricted to Israel and Washington, which parroted Mr. Netanyahu’s talking points.

There was an ugly equivocation from other western leaders. They spoke of “regret”, “tragedy” and “concern at the loss of life”, as though an act of God had struck Gaza, not an order from Israeli commanders to quell the Palestinian urge for freedom with live ammunition.

Equally dishonest was talk of the “need for restraint from both sides” and “clashes”, as though the protesters had been tussling with Israeli soldiers in hand-to-hand combat rather than being coldly picked off through telescopic sights.

Israeli politicians and media have desperately searched for a moral justification for these executions. They have talked of “kite terrorism” and a supposed stone-throwing threat to soldiers positioned hundreds of yards away.

While thousands of Palestinians have been executed or maimed, how many Israelis have been harmed in the past six weeks of Gaza’s protests? Precisely none.

This is a strange kind of terror.

The reality is that tiny Gaza is becoming rapidly uninhabitable, as the United Nations has repeatedly warned. For more than a decade Israel has blockaded it from land, air and sea, while intermittently pummeling the enclave with missiles and military invasions.

A senior New York Times correspondent tweeted on Monday that Gaza’s Palestinians looked as though they had a “death wish”. But two million Palestinians – a population rapidly growing – are inmates in what is effectively a shrinking prison, whose store rooms are almost bare.

Tens of thousands of them have shown they are prepared to risk their lives not for some death cult but to win freedom, the most precious human impulse of all.

And they have preferred confrontational, nonviolent resistance as a way to shame Israel and the world into recognizing their plight.

And yet instead, Israel has stripped them of all agency by falsely claiming that they are pawns in a game by Hamas to pressure Israel.

But in so far as Hamas is trying to influence Israel, what is its aim?

Last week, a gloating Israeli media reported that Hamas was quietly appealing for a long-term truce with Israel, effectively renouncing the Palestinians’ right to violently resist Israel’s occupation.

It would not be the first time. But whereas once Hamas sought a truce in return for a two-state solution, now it is said to have requested simply an end to the blockade and a chance to rebuild Gaza.

Even this minimal concession is rejected by Israel. Instead an Israeli minister responded to Monday’s slaughter by proposing that Israel assassinate the Hamas leadership.

Israel may be without remorse, but are western leaders feeling shamed?

Apart from South Africa and Turkey, none has so far withdrawn an ambassador. There are no calls for embargoes on sales of arms, no demands for war crimes investigations, no threats of trade sanctions.

And no plans, of course, for the kind of “humanitarian intervention” western governments have keenly promoted in other parts of the Middle East where civilians are under threat.

For seven decades, the west has pampered Israel at every turn. The lack of any meaningful punishment for violating Palestinian rights led directly to Monday’s massacre.

And the failure to inflict a price on Israel for this massacre – in fact, the reverse: visible rewards with a relocated US embassy and the chance to host the Eurovision Song Contest – will lead to the next massacre, and the one after.

Handwringing is not enough. It is time for anyone with a conscience to act.


Israel versus the United States

May 17, 2018

by Michael Hunt

Simon Legree University

South Carolina

Israel is not a friend to the United States. This is because Israel runs one of the most aggressive and damaging espionage networks targeting the US. The fact of Israeli penetration into the country is not a subject that is ever discussed in the media or in the circles of governance, due to the extreme sensitivity of the US-Israel relationship coupled with the burden of the Israel lobby, which punishes legislators who dare to criticize the Jewish state. .

The origin of Israeli intelligence services lies in the underground organizations that were formed to assist Aliya (Jewish immigration to Palestine), during the period of British mandate. In 1884, the Choveve Zion (the lovers of Zion) met in the Prussian city of Pinsk to constitute ideas on the return of the Jews to Palestine. Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State came out in 1896 and in the same year he convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland to consider the idea of a Jewish national homeland . In 1900, under the auspices of the fourth Zionist Congress, the Jewish National Fund was created whose task was to purchase land in Palestine . Upon the defeat of the Ottoman Empire with the Arab help, the British promised independence to the Palestinians. On the other hand, the British in 1917 issued the Balfour Declaration and pledged for the establishment of a national home for Jewish people in the land of Palestine, which later in 1922, was granted to Britain as a Òmandate’ by the League of Nations.

The Pre-1948 Waves of Jewish Immigration: The first Aliya took place from 1882-1904 and the second one from 1904-1914, both of which derived support from the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Jewish National Fund . During the British mandate, the Zionist underground resistance force, Haganah, had as its information arm, an organization known as Sherut Yedioth. The Sherut later came to be known as SHAI which began its worldwide operations in 1929 until an independent Israel was created in 1948 . Its task was to collect political intelligence for the sake of Zionist propaganda and to infiltrate the anti-Zionist and extremist groups in Palestine as well as the neighbouring Arab countries .

Two routes of immigration were open to the Jews to emigrate from Europe, one legal and the other illegal. The legal immigration was allowed by the British but the numbers were small. Between 1939-1944, Britain allowed 75,000 Jews to enter Palestine legally and after that, if it allowed more Jews to immigrate, it would do so only with the Arab consent. The Jewish agency that came into being due to the need for illegal immigration of Jews to Palestine was the Mossad le Aliyah Bet. This institution at that point incorporated ten people who worked in six countries: Switzerland, Austria, France, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. And it was the duty of these agents to make false passports, arrange escape routes and charter ships to take illegal immigrants to Palestine without being detected by the British authorities .

Another pre-independence agency that formed the executing arm of the Haganah was Palmach which was military in character, whereas another organization Rekhesh was involved in covert operations and arms smuggling for the underground Jewish forces that had infiltrated the Arab townships.

The post-1948 agencies: After becoming an independent state the SHAI was disbanded in favour of IDF (Israeli Defence Forces). Its political department was responsible to collect intelligence worldwide. Sherut Bitachon Klali was formed as a general security service for the sake of internal security and counter-espionage, also known as SHABAK or Shin Beth in Hebrew.

In 1951, Ben-Gurion initiated the Central Institute for Intelligence and Special Duties (Mossad Letafkidim Meouychadim) commonly known as Mossad. Its initial function was to assess operation feasibility of military intelligence and nomination of targets, but after the creation of Military intelligence Agaf Modiin (AMAN) in 1953, it became independent of the Military Intelligence. In 1960, when Shimon Peres was in the ministry of defense, LEKEM (the Bureau of Scientific Relations) was instituted to collect scientific and technical intelligence for technological development, specially in relation to the weapon systems

A thick file of official Israeli governmental directives obtained by Army codebreakers from the communications systems of the Israeli Embassy in Washington was copied and circulated around the national capitol. The fury of the Jewish community descended upon the White House and President Obama instituted a secret investigation into the surveillance of the Israelis. Among the documents were outright demands that the Ambassador instruct the American President that Israel ordered American airforce units to carpet bomb, using bunker-buser bombs, a thick swatch of land in southern Lebanon on the grounds that Hezbollah had untold long range missiles stockpiled there in anticiption of a raid on Israel at some undetermined future point. There also was a lengthy report from Tel Aviv that the Army or other DoD agency had intercepted and decoded Israeli plans to create a false Iranian attack on U.S. forces to compel the United States to take military measures against Iran in Israel’s favor.

And then there has been the long-standing and on-going problem of Mossad importation of illegal drugs into the United States through Florida and parts of the Gulf Coast. For example there is an on-going massive ecstasy trafficking operation, delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal drugs, manufactured in the Netherlands, to cities across the United States. The drug trafficking operation is also engaged in black market diamond smuggling, using Hassidic Jews as couriers., and under the specific  ontrol of American-based Mossaad units now in place

Portions of the funds garnered from the illegal operations, according to DoD intercepted sources, were funneled to offshore bank accounts of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, now in a vegetative state in an Israeli hospital. Some of these dirty funds were specifically diverted to Sharon’s election campaigns. This Israeli mafia apparatus receives technical support via a number of Israeli communications firms, that subcontract with major American telephone companies and government law enforcement agencies.

Spy operations, targeted at mosques and other centers of the Islamic-American communities. According to sources, the goal is to foment nominally “Arab” or “Islamic” labeled violence and terrorism inside the United States, to win Bush Administration support for an Israeli war against the Palestinians and Arabs. These sources believe further, Israeli-abetted terror attacks are to be expected.

Surveillance of U.S. government law enforcement, military and intelligence facilities, to gather profile information for such terrorist attacks, as well as espionage penetration. Organized teams of young, “recently retired” Israeli Defense Force soldiers, often associated with specialty units engaged in electronic signal intercepts and explosive ordinance, have targeted at least 36 domestic U.S. military bases, and many federal law enforcement and intelligence installations. A second feature of this targeting of USG facilities is the recruitment of “a new generation of Jonathan Pollards”



EU will use ‘blocking statute’ to protect its firms from US sanctions for operating in Iran

May 17, 2018


The European Union will activate legislation banning the bloc’s companies from complying with US sanctions against Iran as soon as Friday, according to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The law also does not recognize any court rulings enforcing penalties, which could be potentially introduced by the White House against European corporations doing business in the Islamic Republic.

“As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies,” the Commission president said at a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders. “We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of to activate the ‘blocking statute’ from 1996. We will do that tomorrow morning at 10:30.”

We also decided to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies’ investment in Iran. The Commission itself will maintain its cooperation with Iran,” Juncker said.

The move followed Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, clinched three years ago between Tehran and the P5+1 powers (China, France, Russia, UK, US, plus Germany) and to reintroduce sanctions that were lifted after signing the pact.

The US Treasury Department said it would give European businesses six months to wind up their investments in the country or risk US sanctions – forbidding them from signing new contracts.

Following a decades-long financial and economic blockade, the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), opened Iran as one of the biggest global markets to dozens of multinationals across the globe. The EU’s biggest companies rushed to sign multi-billion euro deals with Tehran shortly after the sanctions were lifted. As for Iran, the energy-rich republic got an opportunity to ramp up its presence in the global oil markets.

The EU has a lot of experience protecting its interests, Dawood Nazirizadeh, chairman of the Wiesbaden Academy for integration, told RT.

“In 1996 it defended itself against US secondary sanctions with the ‘blocking statute’. As a result, the US granted exemptions to European companies. However, under the current US administration, we are not optimistic about the future for such an agreement,” said Nazirizadeh.

The EU also agreed to stick to the Iran nuclear deal, aiming to protect the interests of European corporations dealing with Tehran against US sanctions, according to European Council President Donald Tusk.

“On Iran nuclear deal, we agreed unanimously that the EU will stay in the agreement as long as Iran remains fully committed to it. Additionally the Commission was given a green light to be ready to act whenever European interests are affected,” the top EU official said.


EU to reactivate ‘blocking statute’ against US sanctions on Iran for European firms

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the bloc plans to kickstart a 1996 law that would prohibit European companies for complying with US sanctions on Iran.

May 17, 2018


European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced Thursday that the bloc plans to reactivate a law that would seek to block European companies from complying with any sanctions the US would reintroduce against Iran.

Juncker’s announcement came during the second day of an EU reunion in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, which had already been marked by sharp criticism from European leaders over American President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

What Juncker said:

In Thursday’s announcement, Juncker said: “As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies. We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of to activate the ‘blocking statute’ from 1996.”

Juncker said that the law would be launched Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. local time (0700 GMT).

He added that European leaders “also decided to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies’ investment in Iran” and said the Commission would continue to cooperate with Iran.

What is the 1996 blocking statute?

A blocking statue is a law enacted in a local jurisdiction that attempts to hinder application of a law made by a foreign jurisdiction.

The 1996 legislation protects “against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country.”

It was originally developed to get around a US trade embargo on Cuba and sanctions related to Iran and Libya, though it was never enacted because the disagreements were settled politically.

In the current proposed application, the law would attempt to shield European companies that do business with Iran from future US sanctions by prohibiting the companies from respecting US sanctions.

It also would not recognize any court rulings that enforce the American-issued penalties.

What effect could the blocking statute have?

In order to have any effect, the blocking statue would have to be updated to include US nuclear-related sanctions on Iran — a lengthy process that would require consent from the EU’s 28 member states.

The law’s potential economic effect remains unknown, since it was never used during the Cuban embargo.

In addition, its regulatory language is nebulous, and the measures it lays out to block European companies’ from bowing to US sanctions could prove difficult to enforce.

Many European governments see the blocking statute as a political tool, which could put pressure on the US to walk away from punitive financial punishments.

How have European companies responded?

German-headquartered insurance firm Allianz and Danish shopping company Maersk have already said they plan to close operations in Iran in order to avoid getting hit by reintroduced US sanctions.

The 1996 legislation leaves it up to each EU member state “to determine the sanctions to be imposed in the event of breach of any relevant provisions of this Regulation,” adding that such sanctions “must be effective, proportional and dissuasive.”

European companies with large operations in the US are putting pressure on their governments to grant them individual waivers.

What is the Iran nuclear deal?

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal was a pact negotiated by Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britian, as well as the EU and the US that authorized the lifting of economic sanctions against Tehran in exchange for the dismantling of its nuclear program and compliance with international atomic regulations.

What did President Trump decide to do?

The president decided that he would withdraw the US from the accord, which he referred to as “flawed,” thereby raising the specter of renewed sanctions against companies that do business with Iran.

What was the reaction to Trump’s decision?

The deal’s other signatories have plegded to continue their commitment to the deal and encouraged Iran to uphold its responsibilities, as well. EU foreign ministers met their Iranian counterpart earlier this week to discuss how they could keep the nuclear deal alive without the US. In particular, both sides have discussed how to keep revenue flowing into Iran in light of pending sanctions.


The Ruinously Expensive American Military

Pay and benefits are out of control

May 15, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

America’s Republican politicians complain that “entitlements,” by which they mean pensions and medical care, are leading the country to bankruptcy even as they fatten the spending on the Pentagon, which now takes 12 percent of the overall budget. And it should be noted that while workers contribute to the social programs during all their years of employment, the money that goes to the military comes straight out of the pockets of taxpayers before being wasted in ways that scarcely benefit the average citizen unless one seriously thinks that folks over in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan actually do threaten the survival of the United States of America.

I was in a Virginia supermarket the other day checking out when the woman behind the cash register in a perky voice asked me “Will you give $5 to support our troops?” I responded “No. Our troops already get way too much of our money.” She replied, “Hee, hee that’s a funny joke” and I said “It’s not a joke.” Her face dropped and she signaled to her boss over in customer service and asked her to take over, saying that I had been rude.

If there is any group in the United States that exceeds the sheer greed of our politicians it is the military, which believes itself to be “entitled” as a consequence of its role in the global war on terror. I am a veteran who began service in a largely draftee army in which we were paid “twenty-one dollars a day once a month” as the old World War 2 song goes. When we got out, the GI Bill gave us $175 a month to go back to college, which did not cover much.

Today’s United States has 2,083,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen on active duty plus reserves. Now that the military is an all-volunteer rather than a conscript force, it is understandable that pay and benefits should be close to or equivalent to civilian pay scales. Currently, a sergeant first class with 10 years in service gets paid $3968 a month. A captain with ten years gets $6271. That amounts to $47,616 and $75,252 a year respectively plus healthcare, food, housing, cost of living increases and bonuses to include combat pay.

Though there are several options for retirement, generally speaking a soldier, sailor Marine or airman can retire after 20 years with half of his or her final “high three” pay as a pension, which means an 18-year-old who enlists right out of high school will be 38 and if he or she makes sergeant first class (E-7) he or she will be collecting $2338 a month or more for a rest of his or her life adjusted for cost of living,

Many Americans would be astonished at the pensions that general officers and admirals receive, particularly since 80% of them also land in “retirement” generously remunerated positions with defense contractors either in active positions soliciting new contracts from their former peers or sitting on boards. General David Petraeus, whom The Nation describes as the “general who lost two wars,” pulls in a pension of $220,000 even though he was forced to resign as CIA Director due to passing classified information to his mistress. He is also chairman of a New York City based company KKR Global, which is part of a private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts. He reportedly is paid in six figures plus bonuses for “oversee[ing] the institute’s thought leadership platform focused on geopolitical and macro-economic trends, as well as environmental, social, and governance issues.”

It apparently is difficult to take money away from general and flag officers. An Air Force four-star general named Arthur Lichte was reduced in rank to a two-star in 2017 after he was found guilty of having raped a lower ranking woman officer. His pension went down from $216,000 to $156,000 due to the reduction. Normally, however, America’s 1,000 general and flag officers can look forward to comfortable retirements.

But on top of that rather generous bit of cash there are the considerable other benefits, as the old recruiting sergeants would put it, the “bennies.” Military retirees can receive full tuition and expenses at a college or technical school if they choose to go back to school. This is why one sees so many ads for online universities on television – they are trolling for soldier dollars knowing that it’s free money. The retiree will also have access to heavily subsidized medical care for him or herself plus family. The medical care is a significant bonus under the Tricare system, which describes itself on its website as “the gold standard for medical coverage, [that] is government managed health insurance.” A friend who is retired recently had a hip replacement operation that would have cost $39,000 for only a few hundred dollars through Tricare.

What is significant is that even enlisted military personnel can start a second career on top of their pension, given that many of them are still in their thirties. Some that have security clearances can jump into highly paid jobs with defense contractors immediately while others also find places in the bureaucracy with the Department of Homeland Security. Working for the government twice is called “double dipping.”

Some would argue that military personnel deserve what they get because the jobs are by their very nature dangerous, sometimes fatal. Indeed, the number of maimed and PTSD-afflicted soldiers returning from the endless wars is a national tragedy and caring for them should be a top priority. But the truth is that only a very small fraction, by some estimates far less than 20% of Army and Marine personnel in so-called “combat arms,” ever are in danger. Air Force and Navy personnel rarely experience combat at all apart from bombing targets far below or launching cruise missiles against Syrians. It is true that given the volatile nature of war against insurgents in places like Afghanistan many soldiers in support roles can come under fire, but it is far from normal and most men and women in service never experience a gun fired in anger.

Some numbers-crunchers in the Pentagon have already raised the alarm that the current pay, benefits and retirement levels for military personnel is unsustainable if the United States continues its worldwide mission against terrorists and allegedly rogue regimes. And it is also unsustainable if the U.S. seeks to return to a constitutional arrangement whereby the nation is actually defended by its military, not subordinated to it and being bankrupted by its costs.


North Korea does not want to be like East Germany

Pyongyang’s threat that it is ready to call off the planned meeting between North Korea’s leader and the US president is a reality check for the Trump administration — especially for Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.

May 16, 2018

by Michael Knigge


Should Washington take North Korea’s threat seriously?

Washington and Pyongyang’s bluffs, posturing and brinkmanship in the run-up to the highly anticipated summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should be expected. Similarly, North Korea’s history of sudden diplomatic maneuvers — such as when it canceled a secretly planned meeting between US Vice President Mike Pence and Pyongyang officials during this year’s Winter Olympics at the last minute — is also well established.

So Washington need not panic about whether the summit, which aims to end the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, will indeed take place. But it also should not regard Pyongyang’s threat to walk away from the meeting as mere bluff.

North Korea had called off a meeting with South Korea planned for Tuesday in protest over joint US-South Korean military exercises, which Pyongyang considered an aggressive gesture.

I expected them to object. And perhaps, if the United States does not satisfy their demands, this summit meeting can be aborted,” Han Park told DW. Park is a former unofficial US-North Korean negotiator who secured the release of two detained American journalists in 2009 and facilitated the visit of former US President Jimmy Carter to Pyongyang in 1994.

“It’s not a complete surprise that North Korea would respond to these exercises by demonstrating to Trump that negotiations are going to be a complex process, and the United States should not take North Korea’s participation for granted,” concurred Kelsey Davenport, the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association.

She suggested that Washington, during ongoing talks, consider de-emphasizing elements of the joint exercise that North Korea views as most provocative. According to a South Korean media report, US nuclear-capable strategic bombers, which had originally been scheduled to participate, will now not take part in the exercises.

North Korea’s threat to cancel the summit can also be understood as a response to President Trump, who has repeatedly described himself as a savvy negotiator. Just recently he lashed out against former top US diplomat John Kerry for refusing to drop out of talks when the Iran nuclear deal was being negotiated. Kerry’s unwillingness to walk away, according to Trump, ultimately led to an agreement which the president has labeled the “worst deal” in history — one which he just recently pulled the US out of.

With its threat to scrap the leadership summit, Kim Jong Un, in a way, has now one-upped Trump by stating that he might not just walk away from a bad deal, but that he might skip a meeting that did not fulfill his conditions. Having said that, both Trump and Kim have an avid interest in making the historic summit become a reality — if only to play to their respective domestic audiences.

What should the Trump administration glean from Pyongyang’s comments?

“We have to have a realistic assessment of North Korea in terms of their desires and plans,” said Han Park, the former negotiator, who has visited North Korea more than 50 times. A coherent plan or a long-term strategy to deal with Pyongyang beyond the Trump’s administration mantra of denuclearization remains absent, added Park.

“Sure, Trump would like denuclearization, but North Korea is not going to give up its nuclear aspirations or having a military defense capability against the United States,” he said. “They are not going to give up that capability without assurance of peace. And we have not discussed what we can give North Korea for peace and denuclearization.”

If the Trump administration is serious about negotiating denuclearization, it must address Pyongyang’s security concerns, said Davenport. “It views the US military presence in the region as a threat, and Washington is going to need to reduce that threat if it wants North Korea to take meaningful steps to halt and reverse its nuclear weapons program.”

In preparation for the summit, the US — and especially the president himself — need to understand that there is a price to pay for steps toward North Korean nuclear disarmament, the experts said. The US also needs to be aware that such an effort will take time and cannot be achieved in one high-profile setting between Trump and Kim.

“At best it is the start of something, at worst it is one demonstrative, symbolic gesture, especially on the part of Trump,” said Park.

Instead of focusing too much on this one event, said Davenport, Washington should concentrate on “denuclearization as a long-term goal that recognizes that, in the interim, steps that reduce the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and that reduce North Korea’s capacity to expand its arsenal, can still be meaningful and benefit US national security.

Why was John Bolton singled out by North Korea?

In a statement, former North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan attacked President Trump’s new National Security Advisor John Bolton, stating that: “We do not hide our feeling of repugnance toward him.” Kim took issue with Bolton — a hardliner who has a history of advocating for US preventative military action in countries like Iran, Iraq and North Korea — recently suggesting Libya’s nuclear disarmament as a model for North Korea.

That comparison, understandably, did not go down well in Pyongyang, because less than 10 years after Libya ended its nuclear activities, the country’s leader was toppled and killed after an outside military intervention that included the US.

What Kim’s missive did not mention explicitly — but what is probably an even better explanation for North Korea’s hostility towards Bolton — is his past role in nixing a nuclear deal that a previous US administration had reached with Pyongyang — just as he did recently with the Iran deal.

“North Korea has legitimate reason to distrust John Bolton,” said Davenport. “John Bolton was instrumental in killing the negotiated agreement between the United States and North Korea when Bush succeeded Clinton as president.”

Like the later Iran nuclear accord, the so-called Agreed Framework, signed in 1994 by Bill Clinton, was extremely controversial and never ratified by Congress. President George W. Bush’s description of North Korea as being part of the so-called “axis of evil” marked the de-facto end of the agreement.

Former US-North Korea negotiator Park, who knows Bolton personally, thinks Trump’s national security advisor holds an anachronistic view of global affairs. “He is basically a militarist. He thinks things will be taken care of through military means. But that time is gone. We cannot use military means against North Korea.”

But Park also offered some advice for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently said that if Pyongyang took “bold action to quickly denuclearize, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends.”

“When Pompeo suggests that North Korea can be assisted by the US to become like South Korea — that’s not what they want. They don’t want to be a small South Korea. They want the money, but not through capitalist, private-ownership means whatsoever. They don’t want to be like East Germany.”


Top US and S Korean diplomats hold emergency call over N Korea

Call followed Pyongyang’s cancellation of ministerial talks with Seoul and threats to pull out of the Trump-Kim summit.

May 17, 2018

Al Jazeera

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha held emergency talks on Wednesday following North Korea’s cancellation of ministerial talks with Seoul and threats to pull out of the Trump-Kim summit scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12.

A US State Department source confirmed to Al Jazeera on Thursday that the call took place between Pompeo and Kang.

“Secretary Pompeo and the Foreign Minister Kang of South Korea had the opportunity to speak last evening by phone, and we continue to coordinate closely,” the statement said without elaborating on the details of the call.

Earlier, South Korea’s official news agency, Yonhap, reported that Kang briefed Pompeo on Seoul’s position on North Korea’s latest move and vowed to “fully implement” the agreement reached between President Moon and Kim on April 27.

They agreed that the two sides would “continue close cooperation to achieve the complete denuclearisation and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula through the successful hosting of the North Korea-US summit on the basis of the accomplishments in the April 27 South-North summit,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

South Korea has also reportedly offered to mediate between the US and North Korea, Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Seoul, said on Thursday.

Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, reporting from Beijing, said China had called on the US “to seize the opportunity for peace”.

The news comes as Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported on Thursday that Pompeo had demanded that North Korea ship overseas some of its nuclear warheads, ballistic missiles and other nuclear materials within six months.

In exchange, the US hinted that it might remove Pyongyang from a list of state sponsors of “terrorism”.

But North Korea’s decision on Wednesday to abruptly cancel ministerial-level talks with South Korea has put the future of the entire negotiations into question.

‘Deliberate military provocation’

Pyongyang said its decision was in response to the ‘Max Thunder’ joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, which involves some 100 military aircraft.

North Korea’s state news agency has dubbed the drills a “deliberate military provocation”. Pyongyang also warned against being pressured to abandon its nuclear programme.

The US-South Korea war games continued on Thursday amid North Korea’s objections.

Following Pyongyang’s decision, US President Donald Trump said “we will have to see” if his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will go ahead.

On Wednesday, North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, Kim Kye-gwan, said: “If the US is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the … summit.”

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programmes as a necessary deterrent against perceived aggression by the US, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea.

It has long said it is open to eventually giving up its nuclear arsenal if the US withdraws its troops from South Korea and ends its “nuclear umbrella” security alliance with Seoul.

Kim Kye-gwan also derided as “absurd” comments by Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who suggested discussions with North Korea should be similar to those that led to components of Libya’s nuclear programme being shipped to the US in 2004.

North Korea clashed with Bolton when he worked under the administration of former President George W Bush.

“We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him,” he said.


Putin says Russian frigates in Mediterranean on standby over Syria threat

May 16, 2018


SOCHI (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russian military vessels with Kalibr cruise missiles would be on permanent standby in the Mediterranean to counter what he said was the terrorist threat in Syria.

The deployment shows how Russia has increased its military presence in the Middle East since it launched an intervention in Syria in 2015, turning the tide of the civil war in favour of its close ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia has in the past fired Kalibr cruise missiles from frigates and submarines stationed in the Mediterranean Sea at militant targets to support Syrian army offensives. Putin on Wednesday said only warships armed with Kalibr missiles would be on permanent standby, and not submarines.

Announcing the deployment while addressing the Russian high military command at a meeting in the Black Sea city of Sochi, Putin said it was “due to the remaining terrorist threat in Syria.”

Moscow already has a permanent naval base at Tartus, on the Syrian coast, and an air base at Hmeimim in Syria.

Last month Russia hinted it would also supply advanced S-300 ground-to-air missiles to Assad despite objections from Israel, which has lobbied Russia hard not to transfer the missiles.

On Friday, however, in an apparent U-turn following a visit to Moscow by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russia said it was not in talks with Syria about supplying the missiles. It said it did not think they were needed.

The Kremlin denied it had performed a U-turn on the missile question or that any decision was linked to Netanyahu’s visit.

Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; editing by John Stonestreet and Raissa Kasolowsky


‘Deadly and unconstitutional’: Trump attacks California sanctuary cities

In a heated meeting between the president, law enforcement and California officials, Trump depicted immigrants as a violent threat

May 16, 2018

by Tom McCarthy

The Guardian

A week after the Trump administration endorsed separating immigrant children from their parents as a deterrent against undocumented travel to the United States, Donald Trump convened a meeting of law enforcement officers and elected officials from California to blast sanctuary cities and depict immigrants as a violent threat.

New sanctuary laws protecting immigrants went into effect in California in January. While multiple localities in the state have said they will opt out of the sanctuary policy, the laws are broadly popular in the state, with support from more than 50% of residents, according to polling.

In a White House meeting that included the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, and top officials from the department of homeland security and the US immigration and customs enforcement (Ice), Trump called the California policy “deadly and unconstitutional”.

“The state of California’s attempts to nullify federal law have sparked a rebellion by patriotic citizens who want their families protected and their borders secured,” Trump said. “They want border security. They want protection. That’s what we’re all about.”

Trump added that Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, California, should be prosecuted for warning residents of an imminent Ice operation that may have saved some from arrest.

“I mean, you talk about obstruction of justice; I would recommend that you look into obstruction of justice for the mayor of Oakland, California, Jeff,” Trump said to the attorney general.

A small minority of undocumented immigrants are implicated in a disproportionately small number of violent crimes each year, but Trump has painted immigrants as a violent threat since the day he announced his presidential run.

Hardline immigration policies have become increasingly important to the Republican elections blueprint, and Trump’s extreme stances on the issue were a significant factor in his White House win, according to analysis by FiveThirtyEight.

As he has at least once before, Trump in Wednesday’s meeting called members of the Central America-based MS-13 gang “animals” and vowed to step up deportations of immigrant gang members.

“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are,” Trump said. “These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”

“MS-13, we’re grabbing them by the thousands and we’re getting them out,” Trump said.

The number appeared to be inflated. Ice reported removing 5,396 gang members in fiscal year 2017, according to Politifact, but MS-13 members made up less than 10% of arrests in a gang crackdown announced that year.

Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, said last week that immigrants to the United States were uneducated and unable to assimilate, which the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman pointed out was a “canard that has been used against every wave of immigrants from every country throughout our history”.

Addressing law enforcement officers at a conference in Arizona on 7 May, Sessions said that separating families at the border was an effective way to discourage illegal immigration.

“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

Kelly was asked last week whether that policy was inhumane.

“I wouldn’t put it quite that way,” he said. “The children will be taken care of – put into foster care or whatever.”

A reported surge in the number of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the US border in March prompted Trump to announce he was sending National Guard troops to the border.


Trump fails to halt ‘Apprentice’ contestant’s defamation lawsuit

May 17, 2018

by Jonathan Stempel


NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York state appeals court on Thursday denied U.S. President Donald Trump’s bid to halt a defamation lawsuit by a former contestant on his reality TV show “The Apprentice” who accused him of making unwanted sexual advances.

In a one-page order, the Appellate Division in Manhattan did not explain why it refused to stay the lawsuit by Summer Zervos while the president appeals a March 20 lower court ruling that allowed the California restaurateur to pursue her case.

The White House was not immediately available for comment.

Trump is appealing a ruling by Justice Jennifer Schecter of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, which rejected his claim that as president he was immune from lawsuits over private conduct predating his entering the White House.

Zervos, an “Apprentice” contestant in 2005, accused Trump of kissing her against her will at a 2007 meeting in New York and later groping her at a Beverly Hills hotel.

She first came forward in October 2016, a month before the presidential election, following the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording in which Trump spoke in vulgar terms about women.

While Trump apologized for his comments, he said repeatedly during his campaign that all accusations made by women after the “Access Hollywood” recording became public were “lies.” He also republished on Twitter a post calling Zervos’ claims a hoax.

Zervos has said those denials amounted to defamation and that diners avoided her restaurant after she was branded a liar.

“We look forward to proving Ms. Zervos’s claim that defendant lied when he maliciously attacked her for reporting his sexually abusive behavior,” Zervos’ law firm, Cuti Hecker Wang said in a statement on Thursday.

Several women have accused Trump of improper sexual conduct or said he had affairs with them.

Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is seeking to end an agreement in which Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 not to discuss her alleged affair with Trump.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Richard Chang and Jonathan Oatis


Qatari Investor: Michael Cohen Asked Me for a Million Dollars

May 16, 2018

by Ryan Grim

The Intercept

In the blink of a Michael Avenatti tweet, Ahmed al-Rumaihi has suddenly found himself internet-famous. It began on Sunday evening, when the attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels posted a screenshot of video footage from Trump Tower’s lobby, recorded on December 12, 2016.

Viral speculation followed, with online detectives identifying al-Rumaihi, the former head of a $100 billion wing of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, in the image and linking him to a Russia-Qatar deal to sell a portion of the oil company Rosneft, which had been referenced in the Steele dossier, a set of raw intelligence reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

From there, Slate took over, headlining a piece late Monday night: “Michael Cohen’s Meetings With Michael Flynn and a Qatari Diplomat Might Be the Key to Unlocking the Steele Dossier.”

Over the past two months, al-Rumaihi has shared details of his meetings that week in off-the-record interviews with The Intercept. Al-Rumaihi said he was reluctant to speak out publicly, so as not to create diplomatic problems for his country, which has been the subject of a blockade led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since June. Qatar has been relying on the United States to mediate the dispute, and al-Rumaihi said he did not want to get in the way of that effort.

But al-Rumaihi, who was educated in the U.S. and served as the No. 2 in the Qatar embassy in Washington from 2008 until 2013, has changed his mind. He has complicated reasons for wanting to speak out now. After leaving Qatari government service in March 2017, he funded his own enterprise, called Sport Trinity. Last month, he was sued as part of a commercial dispute involving a former business partner of Steve Bannon and the rapper and actor Ice Cube. In a recent filing, the former Bannon partner, Jeff Kwatinetz, accuses al-Rumaihi of having offered to “bribe” Bannon, and further alleges in a complaint, filed in California, that al-Rumaihi told him, “Do you think [Michael] Flynn turned down our money?”

Al-Rumaihi said the claims in the lawsuit are fabricated, and that Kwatinetz would routinely raise the possibility of asking Bannon to assist Qatar, an offer al-Rumaihi said he knew was not serious given Bannon’s public criticism of the Gulf country. A spokesperson for Kwatinetz’s company, BIG3, denied the accusation, saying it was “laughable.”

In several conversations with The Intercept since March, al-Rumaihi talked about an encounter he had with President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in December 2016. Al-Rumaihi said Cohen asked him for an upfront fee of $1 million for his services in the midst of their conversation about a potential Qatari investment in U.S. infrastructure.

Cohen said it was “untrue” that he had sought payment from al-Rumaihi. “These falsehoods and gross inaccuracies are only being written in the hopes of maligning me for sensationalistic purposes. The truth will prevail and will ultimately be proven in court and not by pundits,” Cohen said in a text message.

Cohen has made headlines in recent weeks as records have emerged showing that he was paid millions of dollars in fees for “insights” into the Trump administration, by both obscure entities and blue chip companies like AT&T and Novartis. Al-Rumaihi’s story, however, is the first detailed account from the other side of the table.

In December 2016, government officials from around the world descended on New York City to try to gain insight into America’s unexpected 45th president. Al-Rumaihi, then the head of a $100 billion wing of the Qatar Investment Authority, was one of them. He landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport on December 5 to join a delegation of officials from his home country for a meeting the following week with the national security adviser-designate, Michael Flynn.

Al-Rumaihi said he first met Cohen on December 7, 2016, when he was comped tickets by an American business associate to attend a $5,000-a-plate transition fundraising breakfast at the Manhattan restaurant Cipriani. Among the who’s who of Republican political operatives and successful businessmen at the event — the Qatari said the attendees included everyone from future Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to the owner of the New York Jets, Woody Johnson, who was later named ambassador to the United Kingdom — al-Rumaihi recalled meeting Cohen. Both were working the room, and after perfunctory introductions, al-Rumaihi said he asked Cohen if he could pick his brain on an infrastructure fund the Qatar Investment Authority had been contemplating, worth more than $50 billion. (The Qatari pool of capital would be used in public-private partnerships to refurbish American infrastructure, earning a return for investors and leveraging public dollars.) Cohen’s “eyes lit up,” according to al-Rumaihi. The two quickly exchanged information and agreed to meet soon.

In the space of a few days, the men were back together, this time in the late evening at a table at the Clement Restaurant, on the mezzanine level of the Peninsula Hotel, near a window overlooking Fifth Avenue, al-Rumaihi said. The restaurant was closing, but al-Rumaihi had convinced a staffer to let them keep using the room. They were joined by the same business associate who had invited al-Rumaihi to the Cipriani fundraiser. (Al-Rumaihi asked that he not be named, and the associate declined to comment to The Intercept.)

Al-Rumaihi and Cohen discussed whether, or when, to announce the potential infrastructure funding plan, with Cohen pushing to do it immediately, to show that Trump was already making America great again by bringing in foreign investment and creating American jobs. But al-Rumaihi said he wanted to maximize attention for the fund and help weave it into a narrative around the tight relations between the U.S. and Qatar.

Al-Rumaihi said that, as Cohen pushed, al-Rumaihi promised he’d take it up with the country’s leadership, which ultimately declined to announce it at the time. (A separate $10 billion announcement of a Qatari plan to fund infrastructure projects in the U.S. was made a few days later, though not an official one.)

Al-Rumaihi had reason to believe the Trump administration would be receptive to Qatari investment in infrastructure. Trump had even name-checked Qatar in a campaign speech riff on infrastructure, favorably comparing Doha’s airport to those in New York.

As the conversation turned to the infrastructure fund, Cohen suggested that Qatar could revitalize some Midwestern towns, saying, according to al-Rumaihi, “‘For example, we can find a steel factory that is about to shut down. You guys can invest. I’ll give you some names to appoint as partners. You guys put in the money, we will put in the know-how, and share the profits 50-50. We can perhaps get a federal government ‘off-take agreement’ for 10 to 15 years. It will revitalize the city, great PR, you guys will look like you’re saving the city, everybody wins.’”

Al-Rumaihi surmised that the biggest winners would be the silent “partners,” who would put in “know-how,” rather than money and walk away with half the profits.

When al-Rumaihi asked Cohen more generally about important projects that the investment fund should back, Cohen said there were plenty of options. But Cohen said he would need $1 million first, as part of his fee, al-Rumaihi told The Intercept.

Cohen moved the discussion along, saying “we can discuss those details later,” al-Rumaihi said. Al-Rumaihi remembered struggling to find words to reply, and finally saying, “OK.” Al-Rumaihi said he didn’t mean to signal agreement, but rather, as he recalled later, “that we would discuss those details later and explain why QIA, as a matter of strict policy, does not pay middleman fees in any transactions.”

Al-Rumaihi said he did not pay Cohen, and Cohen’s since-revealed account ledger includes no payment from al-Rumaihi, or any companies connected to him.

Cohen and al-Rumaihi met again briefly that week at the Plaza Hotel, where Cohen showed al-Rumaihi pictures on his mobile phone of his daughter, who he said was in London at the time.

Al-Rumaihi recalled a bizarre turn in the conversation that “went something like, ‘Oh you guys know London pretty well, given all the properties you own, like Harrods — I bet there’s a lot of nice purses there she’d like.’” (A few months later, Cohen was in the news for sharing an artistic photo of her in lingerie on Twitter.)

The next day, December 12, Cohen escorted the Qatari foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, from the Trump Tower lobby to the transition office where Flynn was holding meetings. Al-Rumaihi walked beside bin Abdulrahman into Trump Tower. On Sunday, Avenatti, the attorney for Daniels, who says she was paid to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she had with Trump, tweeted a screenshot of video footage taken that day that includes al-Rumaihi. The photo sparked viral speculation that al-Rumaihi’s visit was somehow connected to the sale of the Russian firm Rosneft, which closed on December 10. Al-Rumaihi said that that deal was not part of his portfolio and had long been in the works, and that he did not meet that day with Flynn, despite being at the Trump Tower.

While Flynn and the Qatari foreign minister talked privately, al-Rumaihi said he made small talk in the lobby with then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was in town to audition for a role in the Trump administration. Perry was later named secretary of the Energy Department, which he had previously advocated to shut down.

Like many business disputes that wind up in court, the one involving al-Rumaihi, Kwatinetz, and Ice Cube has gotten ugly. Ice Cube and Kwatinetz run a three-on-three basketball league known as BIG3, to which al-Rumaihi and another partner allegedly agreed to provide $20.5 million in funding. They only delivered roughly a third of that amount, the suit alleges.

In April, when the emir of Qatar visited Washington for a meeting with Trump, Ice Cube took out a full-page ad in the New York Times highlighting the dispute. The lawsuit was filed on April 5.

A month later, on May 7, Kwatinetz filed a new affidavit, which Avenatti referenced in his viral tweet on Sunday. In it, Kwatinetz says he was “appalled” and “offended” when al-Rumaihi tried to use him as a conduit to “bribe” Bannon:

Mr. Al-Rumaihi requested I set up a meeting between him, the Qatari government, and Steve Bannon, and to tell Steve Bannon that Qatar would underwrite all of his political efforts in return for his support.

I immediately let Mr. Al-Rumaihi know that I was offended by this request, that I was trying to run a basketball league and need our money paid, and I stated that neither I nor Steve Bannon would ever take, or even entertain the concept, of a bribe of any kind. I was appalled.

Mr. Al-Rumaihi laughed and then stated to me that I shouldn’t be so naive, that so many Washington politicians take our money, and stated “do you think [Michael] Flynn turned down our money?”

Al-Rumaihi said that no such conversation ever took place. By the time this conversation would have occurred — Kwatinetz, in his filing, says it was this past January — Bannon had long been out of the White House. Earlier that month, Trump blasted Bannon in the wake of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire & Fury,” suggesting he’d “lost his mind.” In mid-January, Trump and the emir of Qatar spoke directly, with Trump thanking Qatar for its role in combating extremism.

Kai Henry, who was the chief creative officer at BIG3 at the time, said he doubted the Kwatinetz version of the conversation, because Kwatinetz and al-Rumaihi were already locked in a dispute over cash. “The main point of that whole get-together, of them even talking, was, can you fund the BIG3? Because we didn’t have enough money,” Henry said. “Jeff, who’s saying, ‘Hey, where the fuck is my money,’ I just don’t understand how that conversation goes to, ‘Hey, by the way, can you hook me up with Steve Bannon?’”

The dispute over funding for the basketball league has grown deeply personal. Roger Mason Jr., the former commissioner of BIG3, charged in a public filing that Kwatinetz often used racist language in reference to the players and said Henry resigned in protest over the way Kwatinetz disparaged al-Rumaihi and his partner.

According to Mason’s filing, Henry wrote in his resignation email:

I became very uncomfortable when [Kwatinetz] began using rhetoric that weaponizes the heritage of the Trinity investors in order to damage their character. As the Co-Founder of a basketball league which is comprised predominately [sic] of minorities, that language you are using and consistent demonizing is unacceptable and undermines the integrity and viability of the organization.

As a senior official at the National Basketball Players Association, Mason spoke out against the racism of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. He told The Intercept that he was bound by a confidentiality agreement, but that he stood by the statement he had offered to the court. The spokesperson for BIG3 denied the allegations and said, “Every player loves and supports the league,” and that Henry had become close with al-Rumaihi and was not a credible source.

Henry stood by Mason’s account, and said that a comment Kwatinetz made about al-Rumaihi and his partner triggered Henry’s resignation.

“Doesn’t matter, bro,” Henry said Kwatinetz told him of the two Arab investors. “They’re all terrorists.”



Explosive eruption occurs at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, with warning of ash plume

May 17, 2018

by Rong-Gong Lin II

Los Angeles Times

An explosive eruption has occurred at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, officials said, and authorities warned that an ash plume is expected to cover the surrounding area.

“The wind will carry the plume toward the southeast,” Hawaii County officials said in a text message and email. “You should shelter in place if you are in the path of the ash plume.”

The area southeast of Kilauea volcano’s summit is in a rural, remote part of Hawaii Island on its eastern edge, far from any major resort areas. The closest resorts, in Kona and the Kohala Coast, are more than 100 miles away on the west side of the island.

The U.S. Geological Survey posted webcam footage of an ash plume billowing from the Kilauea’s summit, and a plume of ash from an observation tower.


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